Attorney General Won't Probe Eac-County Contract

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The Arizona Attorney General's office has turned down the Citizens for a Better Payson Government's request to investigate the April 8, 2005 contract between Eastern Arizona College and the Gila County Provisional Community College Board of Governors.

"You have brought to our attention two cases from other jurisdictions where courts determined that their statutes justified a quo warranto action to challenge government contracts, but we are not persuaded that such an expansive use of Arizona's quo warranto statute is appropriate," wrote Solicitor General Mary O'Grady in her Sept. 12, 2005 letter.

Citizens for a Better Payson Government requested on April 29, 2005, that the AG's office file a quo warranto action against the April 8 contract between EAC and the GCPCC Board of Governors.

This action would be based on the theory that the GCPCC provisional district has "usurped" and "unlawfully held or excised" its public office by signing the contract.

"While we are disappointed with the failure of the AG's office to pursue the contract question, we remain hopeful that strong actions will be taken in response to the numerous and flagrant open meeting law violations committed by members of the college board in engineering the Eastern Arizona College takeover," CBPG co-chairs Don Crowley and Gordon Metcalf said.

The committee plans to seek further clarification of the AG's stance, but Crowley and Metcalf admit that it is probably a dead issue.

The AG's office is still investigating open meeting law violations of the Gila County Community College governing board before EAC took over the school's contract.

Assistant Attorney General Laurie Woodall is handling the open meeting law violations, which were a source of concern at the Sept. 15 board of governors meeting. The concern stems from e-mails sent by board chairman Robert Ashford.

"An e-mail by a member of a public body to other members of the public body that proposes legal action would constitute a violation of the open meeting law," wrote Arizona AG Terry Goddard in a legal opinion unrelated to EAC and Graham County public records.

Deputy county attorney Bryan Chambers said that it was not appropriate to have senior EAC Dean Margo Bracamonte summarize current events.

What does quo warranto mean?

Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law defines "quo warranto" as 1: an extraordinary writ requiring a person or corporation to show by what right or authority a public office or franchise is held or exercised.

2: a proceeding in the nature of a writ of quo warranto for determining by what authority or right an office or franchise is held or exercised and seeking as an extraordinary remedy the discontinuance of an unlawful exercise of office or franchise.

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